JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African police will ensure the safety of all foreign visitors and teams participating in the World Cup finals, Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday.
Iraqi security forces arrested a Saudi al-Qaeda member who an official said on Monday was involved in a plot to attack the soccer showpiece June 11-July 11 tournament.
Mbalula would not say whether South African authorities had been aware of the threat but said police deal with such threats on a daily basis.
“We are ready for any eventuality,” he told Talk Radio 702.
“We need cooperation from everybody to work with the law enforcement agencies. Police visibility will be of the highest order ... every player, everybody who’ll be here will be protected.”
Security and crime have been one of the biggest issues ahead of the World Cup because of South Africa’s high rate of violent crimes — it has 50 murders a day, almost the same rate as the United States with six times the population.
The safety pledege comes on the day the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is preparing a “terror threat” warning for the tournament after learning of a plan to attack Dutch soccer fans or players.
A spokesman for the ministry said it had an updated concept for its travel advice for South Africa, which was due to be published soon, in response to the arrest made in Iraq.
“The travel advice now clearly states that Dutch interests abroad are vulnerable. It contains the word terror threat which was not in there before,” said the spokesman.
Crime is among the factors blamed for lower-than-expected foreign bookings to attend the World Cup.
Reporting by Phumza Macanda and Gilbert Kreijger in Amsterdam; Editing by Marius Bosch and Neil Maidment